Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Getting on with it

Most of my time over the short holiday break was taken up with terrain building, many hours spent in the hardware store and model train shop. So I have gotten a decent start going on my modular terrain. 3 sections down at least - namely the easiest of the lot as I rather chickened out on the hills and river sections. Still I have 3 very nice road sections done and 4 excellent wall sections to go with it (thanks to some Hirst mould pieces).

Its a good enough start and I have one more road section to complete before I tackle the hills next. Then I will have a playable table of  the bare minimum 6 boards. I have a few more trees to make then I should have enough for three or 4 decent  sized forests. Next up after that is to construct a few loose hills before tackling the river sections and a couple more hill sections. I intend to have one long river section (basically a double length modular terrain board) and 2 curves.

So here is my very first attempt at a major terrain building project. Dreamfish was the major inspiration behind this project, as was Quindia Studios

After a bit of trial and error I settled on 20mm x 20mm wooden frames for each terrain piece. They were stuck down over MDF board and a piece of expanded polystyrene cut to and glued fit into the frame.

Next up was texturing the board. For this I watered down some wood glue about 75% glue and 25% water which I then squirted onto and brushed over the surface of the boards. I did this in roughly 10 to 15cm squares, then scattered my small stones (aquarium sand) over the board before painting on another square of glue and repeating the process. I left the area where the road was going to go clear of the sand. Once all the sand was glued down I textured the road surface with polyfilla, covering the entire surface of the road and scraping the road texture into the putty, leaving ruts and grooves where carts may have travelled. Nothing too exact but just enough to give it a nice surface. I left all of this to dry overnight and then sprayed a heavily watered down wood glue and water mix over the entire board to help seal the sand in place. 

Once all of this was dry I painter the entire board in a "burnt umber" (big pot of acrylic craft paint), then liberally dry brushed "sienna" over this followed by a lighter dry brush of "flesh". This gave the board a nice earthy feel over which I could then add the grass.

Yet more wood glue (I am using a hell of a lot of this stuff!) was painted onto the board surface, leaving patches of bare earth. I then sprinkled my cheap static grass over the glue, occasionally adding a more yellow static grass to break up the colour of the board. It tended to come out in a fairly clumpy finish which I like, giving the appearance of an actual field and not a smooth billiard table. 

Give this another few hours to dry then I turned the board upside down and tapped the back of the board to remove all the loose grass (all of which went back into the big tub of static grass to be sprinkled over the next board). Next up I worked on sticking together random pieces of  bricks from a Hirst cast to make some walls. Nothing much to these but I may describe how they are painted another time. 

I did go back to the boards once they were basically finished and glued a few more clumps of grass onto them to further break up the surface and add some more colour variation (yellow grass and the brighter green citadel grass)

And thats all I have for now. When I get a chance (and the 4th board is made)  I will take some better photos (all of these are with the cellphone) with some units on the boards.


  1. This is all looking really good - great work!

    Good luck with the hills and river.

    Have you decided on a water effect for the river yet or just painting it?

    1. Definitely going with a resin water effect for the rivers. Will need to experiment with that.

  2. Looks great! You've really got a knack for the terrain building thing! Thanks for sharing your techniques. I'm going to take a stab at making some of your trees someday soon.

    In other news, my Instant Mold pack came in...I have to work this weekend, but next weekend I intend to start experimenting with it--I'll see if I can get those Wyvern horns done!

    1. Thanks Mouse :)
      Terrain building is surprisingly fun!

      The Wyvern horns may be sorted already. Weazil happened to have a pair of the horns lying around - no idea how that happens but it works great for me! These are hopefully making their way through the postal service to my door at the moment.

  3. Great stuff Jon, looks really good!

    The plain panels are the easy ones, looking forward on how you go about doing the hills and river sections.

    Good luck!

    1. Yeah, that's why I did them first ;)
      The river sections are the really exciting parts though, and the most daunting.

  4. Looking very nice indeed...and Like DFs project very inspiring.

    A couple of questions:
    1. How thick are the MDF backer boards?
    2. What dimension are your individual panels?
    3. Is the surface coming our smooth enough for movement trays to slide across easily?

    I ask this last question because the sand I used in my super cheapo table is too coarse and causes all kinds of problems with movement.

    Thanks for the informative thread. Keep up the good work.

    1. The MDF boards are 3mm thick. That's sturdy enough and still nice and light.
      The panels are all 60cm by 60cm. Not exactly 2' by 2' but it is close enough as makes no real difference.
      Movement trays slide around quite comfortably on the surface. The static grass eliminates the rough texture of the sand and tends to lift the tray off the surface a bit so even the bare patches are no problem sliding over. The road sections can occasionally snag a tray though.
      I think if there was just the sand on its own you would still get some issues with the movement trays.

  5. thanks Mate very informative...and as said above very inspirational.

    I'm looking forward to the next installment.